Victor Cohen

Victor Cohen

( He/Him/His )
Literature Alumnus


Undergraduate institution: UC Riverside

Graduated from SF State: MA in English Literature, 1996

Other related SF State certificates/degrees: Certificate in the Teaching of Composition

Current employer and position: Oakwood School, Teacher, Social Studies Dept.

A few years after I graduated from SF State, I went on to earn a Ph.D. in cultural studies from Carnegie Mellon University. After teaching literature and writing at the college level for several years, I returned to Los Angeles to be near my extended family, and I currently teach history and literature at a small private high school.

At Oakwood, I teach ancient and medieval history, American history, and a two-week intensive class on the Grapes of Wrath in which we read the novel and head up into the Central Valley to see how Steinbeck’s description holds up. At the time of writing, I’ve just returned from our school’s annual delegation to Chiapas, Mexico. While there, we (a dozen students, another teacher, and I) met with the Zapatistas and their allies to learn about their movement, and then I met with a group of public school teachers from Chiapas to learn why they’re staging mass protests across Mexico to protest the privatization of public education.

SF State has consistently helped me to demonstrate not only my commitment to the study of literature and the teaching of writing, but also my ability to see a challenging task through to completion. Certainly, as a teacher, I use what I learned in my MA program every time I walk into the classroom. Most importantly to me, however, is that I began to really read and think at SF State, and my experience with the faculty there helped me understand what it meant to study literature, and how wonderful and fulfilling a life spent in this way this could be.